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Email shows China listed U.S. athletes as possible troublemakers in Beijing Olympics

Posted by Author on October 31, 2008

By Christine Brennan, USA TODAY, Oct. 30, 2008-

China’s government was so concerned about the possibility of athlete demonstrations in the Beijing Olympics that it created a list of nine U.S. athletes and one assistant coach it thought might cause trouble at the Games, according to an internal U.S. Olympic Committee e-mail obtained by USA TODAY.

The names included softball players Jennie Finch and Jessica Mendoza and soccer player Abby Wambach, who broke her leg and missed the Olympic Games. It also included two Paralympians, one athlete who wasn’t a member of the 2008 softball team and a top female collegiate golfer. Golf is not an Olympic sport.

“We viewed these concerns as being entirely unjustified and unwarranted,” USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said in an e-mail Wednesday. “As such, we rejected the request to address this with our athletes. We saw absolutely no need to burden the athletes with this.”

The list was given to USOC officials in a July 8 meeting by Shu Xiao, minister counselor for cultural affairs at the Chinese Embassy in Washington, according to the e-mail.

“Shu appeared quite concerned” about members of the U.S. team staging “some sort of demonstration at the Games,” the e-mail said, because “many of them” were “apparently associated with Team Darfur,” an international coalition of athletes committed to raising awareness about the crisis in Darfur, Sudan.

Seibel said the USOC “communicated to the embassy in clear terms that our athletes would have the same right to free speech and free expression, consistent with what is set forth in the Olympic Charter, that they have enjoyed at previous Games. We made certain those rights would in no way be infringed upon or compromised.”

“This may be the biggest compliment of my life,” Wambach, a member of Team Darfur, said in a phone interview when informed of the list. “If they’re worried about us, maybe we do have more strength as athletes and as people to speak out. This just gives me more empowerment.”

Calls to the Chinese Embassy on Wednesday went unanswered.

USA TODAY

2 Responses to “Email shows China listed U.S. athletes as possible troublemakers in Beijing Olympics”

  1. Common guys, don’t believe this one.. why this kind of email always target China

  2. […] Email shows China listed US athletes as possible troublemakers in … […]

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